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Marathon

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Two things can be deduced from tonight’s adventures. First, I belong in a mental hospital. Second, I sometimes have more determination than is good for me. Let me give you the background. On my 101-in-1001 list, I have entered an item saying that I should run 42 195 metres, or, a marathon, if you will. The reason I did not write “a marathon” on the list is because I do not feel inclined to participate in any kind of competition or event, but would rather perform the feat on my own.

Leaving home shortly before five in the afternoon, I ran the five kilometres to town as I always do. After two and a half hours of diving, I relaxed a bit before setting out for home. On my way home, I bought some candy, and having only two kilometres left, I thought, what the heck, I feel good, I can run some more. If I have thirty kilometres a week as a goal, I might as well start properly.

To be honest, I have only a vague idea about when it went wrong. I had no intention whatsoever of running 43 kilometres when I set out, this was done on a whim, I can assure you that much. After about ten kilometres, I had the option to either go straight home, meaning only one additional kilometre, or turning back and aiming for my parent’s place, which would add at least fifteen kilometres. Then the thought struck me. Why not go for the marathon now? I knew the circumstances were not the best (having already run five kilometres earlier in the day, together with two and a half hours of diving), but the more I thought about it, the more determined I grew. Is it possible to run that far mostly on willpower?

Not much remains to be said, really. I stopped by at Niklas’ place to refill my bottles and carbohydrates, without which I would have had no chance of finishing (thank you very much indeed). I walked a couple of times in order to drink or simply relax. Admittedly, I was not at all prepared for such an ordeal as this. As for finishing time, I am sorry to say that I honestly do not know, since I did not anticipate what I was about to do until long after I started. My approximation is that I spent four and a half hours running and another twenty minutes resting (relieving myself, refilling bottles, that kind of thing), meaning that I finished just short of five hours. The first half of the run was easy, it was the second half that demanded time and also a bit of rest.

It was fairly interesting to notice how some pains moved about the body as I ran. After about ten kilometres, my left knee and right foot hurt slightly, but I got used to that. Shortly afterwards, my other knee told me it was tired, but this was not a real problem either. Towards the end, all sorts of muscles were telling me they had had their share of exertion (biceps, abdomen, hip flexors), many of them only indirectly connected to the running itself. Finally, I reached home at around two o’clock in the morning.

After having taken a shower, eaten dinner and replenished all sorts of substances (mainly water, carbohydrates, salt and vitamins), I feel incredibly good. Probably, I will not be able to walk for a couple of days, at least not gracefully. To be honest, I do not care, because even though the time is way above what I aimed for, I did what I set out to do despite the far from perfect circumstances. As some sort of reward, I will now allow myself to collapse in my bed. Hopefully I will wake up tomorrow, goodbye till then.

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With this post, I introduce a new way of writing about certain aspects of my life which have hitherto only been covered by the 101-in-1001 list and only when I am successful. The idea with these monthly reports is twofold. Firstly, I will comment on the previous month and assess its outcome on the basis of the previous monthly report. Secondly, for this to work, I will have to discuss the upcoming month in some detail. This first report will naturally be introductory and somewhat more ambitious than the upcoming ones.

The purpose of doing this is to put focus on failure and proceed with converting mistakes into opportunities of learning. This might sound like an old cliché, but I am positively convinced that it is very important and I have been working on it for many years. As I have done before, I can recommend Learning from Fairlure, written by Brad Bollenbach of 30 sleeps, which neatly describes what I am after here. My problem has been that I seem to be very good at applying this to physical activities, but not to mental or social ones. Since I normally only write about things I succeed with, this will be an opportunity to write about failures.

Looking back: January 2008
On the whole, I am satisfied with the latter half of the previous month. I am not saying that things are as I would like them to be, but I am moving in the right direction and it feels very good. Let me be a bit more specific than that.

Physical – I have decided not to focus very heavily on diving this semester, which means that I will free many hours a week to practice other things (I will still practice diving three times a week). My first two goals are running a marathon and performing 25 chin-ups. The former is a long term goal I schedule for completion this summer, but the latter I accomplished two days ago. I have been running 94 kilometres, which seems an adequate start. In total, I spent 3146 minutes on physical activities last month, which is much lower than usual due to a cold.

Creativity – This is where I fail miserably. My intention was to be almost finished with a draft of my role-playing game, but I have yet far to go, mostly due to lack of ability to get started. I spend too much time procrastinating, but as soon as I begin writing, things go fairly smoothly. I have now, however developed a structure I feel comfortable with, so I expect wonders next month instead. In fact, I have alreay jumped the gun and writing has been flowing freely for the last couple of days.

Education – I have received results from last term and, yes, I have managed to achieve maximum marks for all courses. Hurrah, and so forth. This has given me something of a boost of motivation, alongside an intended scholarship for studies in the Republic of China (Wikipedia), but more on that later.

Looking ahead: February 2008
Before being specific again, I have general goal for February. Last month, I managed to use a to-do list for the entire month, although I did not update it as frequently as I would have liked to. Next month, my goal is to continue using the list. I do not require more industrious use of it, but I shall make using it a habit.

Physical – Having managed the 25 chin-ups, I will now move focus towards hand-walking again. The goal is set for 100 metres, which will take time to achieve. My primary goal is to enhance strength and endurance in shoulders and forearms. The problem is that I cannot practice outdoor with the snow, ice and everything, so this is what I am going to do: while in a handstand, touch my forehead with one hand, alternating hands each repetition (aiming for 500 weekly). It is the closest equivalent to hand-walking I have yet found.

Maintain chin-up strength by performing the following program twice a week: (10 pronated + 10 supinated) x 3,negative repetitions allowed to avoid failure and it is supposed to be three sets, so a total of 20 repetitions in each.

To enhance structure, I will do 200 ab wheel rollouts weekly (I am talking about the variant with knees on the floor, thank you very much).

Needless to say, I will continue running to all practice sessions in town, averaging no less than twenty kilometres per week.

Creativity – My primary goal for February is to take the discipline I have when it comes to physical matters, and transform it and employ it to get things written creatively. More explicitly, I intend to have a draft of the mentioned role-playing project finished by the end of the month, which will mean roughly two pages a day.

Education – First and foremost, I shall do my very best to acquire the scholarship. It would be awesome to learn Chinese intimately and at the same time learn about the Republic of China (of which I know embarrassingly little). Apart from that, I intend to add some extra source of learning Chinese, exterior to the text books we are currently using. The goal for February will be to find such an exterior source which suits me and a method to use it.

Inspired by the scholarship, I have also decided to write my project (a part of my course about Northeat Asia) about the foreign relationships of the Republic of China. My goal for February is to have formulated a question on which to base the project. This will require me to read at least one book covering recent history of the region.

Sleep – Having a lot of things to do, I will return to a strict schedule of going up at the same time every morning (7:20 AM). As I have concluded before (conclusion of experiment in Swedish), this is extremely good, but requires some self discipline which I hope I will be able to muster. I will make up for lost hours of sleep with power naps during the day. I am pondering a more radical attitude towards sleeping, but that will have to wait for a while.

On account of dreaming, I want to familiarise myself with the lucid dreaming community and try to find out what research has been done in the field. I shall also spend at least five hours reading about the science of normal sleep and dreaming. This is such an important aspect of human life that I feel ashamed to be so ignorant. Five hours is not much, but my goal here is to get started.

Conclusion
I do not know what will come of these reports, if anything, but I will at least try and see what happens. There are two areas I have goals for, but which I will not write about publicly. They concern financial and social matters I do not feel confident enough to share with the world. I might comment on the outcome, but I doubt that I will publish any details. So, this is it for January 2008, see you again in February, which will also sport a yearly report on my birthday (the 27th).

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